Recently a son and daughter reached out to me so as to explore community living options for their 89 year old mother. I like to use the term “community living” because words such as “assisted living” and “nursing home” are misused; perhaps overly descriptive and often incorrect.
Although I have yet to assess or spend time with their mother, her daughter says “mom is 125% with it”. That tells me mom is sharp; razor sharp. As a private care manager and consultant to families, it’s imperative that I choose my words carefully, especially at the discovery stage with a new client. Statistics show that approximately 1 out of every 2 seniors will enter, and live in a community based setting. It may involve any or all levels of these cares. Based on the information that the daughter and son shared with me during the initial consultation, it’s very likely that their mother will engage in all of these care levels. In what order, it’s often hard to determine.
As I explore the needs of this particular family, I will pay close attention to not only the needs of the senior, but those of the primary, caregiving daughter too. Mom has lived with the daughter for almost 10 years now, and the daughter has begun to suffer from compassion fatigue. She wants to be “a friend to mom again” and views community based living as a way to restore that loving relationship. Mom’s macular degeneration has left her virtually blind, further eroding a once vibrant mother-daughter bond.
Although it’s human nature, families and primary caregivers don’t need to suffer from as much guilt as they typically do when caring for an aging parent. Their health and wellness is as much a part of the solution, as it is for their mother. Seniors that are declining, whether mentally, physically or both, are better served by loved one’s that are mentally and physically healthy. Too often the integral, supporting cast and their well being is overlooked, often diminished while looking after a mom or dad.